According to the US Wildlife and Fish Service, manatees and green sea turtles are out of immediate extinction danger. This is due to the fact that their numbers have slightly increased, but it doesn’t mean that they are entirely safe, they just made a step back from being declared endangered to being categorized as being threatened. There is still a lot of work and time needed for them to be completely out of danger.
It appears that the good news is not that good at all, and many believe that this change in status will only hurt the manatee and green sea turtle population. Activists in Belize say that the “threatened” status is not relevant at all, since the population increased in only some parts of the world, in others they remain endangered but treated as threatened.
What does that mean? It means that although manatees and green sea turtles are out of immediate extinction danger, there are areas in which the population is still at very low levels, but their status being that of “threatened”, poachers will make them a target once more, and they could eradicate an entire habitat.
A good example of how humans can interfere directly with the population of an endangered species is the fact that last year an alarming number of 40 manatees died because of human interference factors. What is more frightening is that even though 2016 began a couple of weeks ago, there have already been 4 manatee deaths recorded.
The manatees are gentle creatures that can grow up to 13 feet long. They are docile, curious and even friendly. There even are parts in Florida when people can swim with the manatees. Other regions have banned this not because the animal posed a threat to humans, but on the contrary, because humans disturb them too much.
The main reason for their low numbers is the increase in boat population, especially boats with a propeller system. Studies showed that the manatee can hear sounds that are of a higher frequency than the noise made by an engine, this makes the sea creature unaware of the dangers of a ship until it is too late. If we also take into account their natural curiosity we can see why the manatee population is decreasing rapidly.
Marine wildlife researchers fear that the fact that both manatees and green sea turtles are out of immediate extinction danger, fundraisers for the protection of the animals will not have the same success and the whole population that took so much effort to increase might decrease back in a few years.
Visit River Ventures